A little Canadian feature that was pretty much overlooked during a small theatrical release a few years ago, "Hard Core Logo" is director Bruce McDonald's punk-rock answer to "This Is Spinal Tap", a mock-documentary about a famous punk band who comes back for a reunion show one night and finds their old fans receptive.
But, things aren't quite what they seemed for that moment in time. The band decides that the response was so good that they should go on the road for one more tour. Followed by a documentary crew, the band, lead by Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) and guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie) piles into an old van to play some new gigs. Not only are they met by indifferent audiences, the feuds that once plagued the band come back in full force.
There's a bit of sadness apparent in the film, especially early on when one of the characters discusses the passage of time while driving as the camera captures the wilderness speeding by, an undefined blur. Visuals are a good, solid part of the film, as the director makes some interesting visual choices, such as the cold blue tone of the scenes where the band is interviewed separately. The overall feel of the film is raw and real; the screenplay's dialogue feels realistic and natural, and the performances are done to perfection. The characters are sympathetic and at times, things become almost saddening.
The film will likely be compared to "Spinal Tap" - in fact, that's how I started this review - but it's different, tone-wise. Darker and more realistic. There's certainly a lot of funny moments throughout the movie, but in the end, it's not really about jokes as much as its about how time (and fame) passes and how friendships shift and change, as well as sometimes fall apart under tension and stress.
An occasionally dark, but entertaining and well-acted feature, "Hard Core Logo" is a solid film that unfortunately got a too-short release.
VIDEO: Miramax provides a very good 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer for "Hard Core Logo". Although the film's low-budget roots might suggest that the film would have a rough, inconsistent quality, that's actually not apparent here. The picture looks consistently sharp and detailed, and there's even some very pleasing depth to the image in quite a few scenes.
The only problem that I saw, in fact, were a few minor print flaws on a few infrequent occasions. These consisted of a couple of minor speckles, but nothing more than that. I saw no instances pixelation or edge enhancement and only a couple of bits of very light grain. It's not a film that's going to serve as an image quality demo for anyone, but the really smooth, film-like image that's on display throughout is an example of a really solid presentation and how it's done.
Colors looked great, as well. For example, the stage lighting in the concert scene early on was crisp, well-rendered and bold. Colors seemed perfectly fine otherwise, as well, looking well-saturated and vibrant. This little film looks great - a very nice job from Miramax.
SOUND: I was initially dissapointed to find out that the film was only presented in Dolby 2.0, till I actually started listening to it. Although the interview sections are simple and dialogue-driven in terms of sound, the concert sequences are powerful - the music sounds terrific and blasts out of the speakers with terrific clarity and force. Dialogue throughout the movie sounded clear and easily understood, as well. A solid 2.0 presentation.
MENUS:: The menus are not animated, but are nicely designed. It would be nice if a punk tune or two played in the background of the main menu.
EXTRAS: The trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Hard Core Logo" isn't for everyone, but I thought it was a well-acted and engaging look at a band who's now past its prime. Although Miramax's DVD doesn't offer anything in the way of extras, it has fine audio/video quality. A little expensive at $32.99 retail, the disc is still worth looking at as a rental.
The Film *** 1/2
Video 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 84/B = (336/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: *** 1/2
DVD GRADE: B-